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Bishop Canevin baseball streaking into the playoffs

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
John O'Donnell and the Bishop Canevin baseball team are looking to get past the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2010.
File photo
John O'Donnell and the Bishop Canevin baseball team are looking to get past the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Finding consistency has been hard for the Bishop Canevin baseball team.

The Crusaders were breaking several new faces into the lineup this season, but the transition period was sent into turmoil with the cancellation of six of the team's seven nonsection games.

“There were some growing pains early on in the section games,” Bishop Canevin coach Dale Checketts said. “But it is paying dividends now.”

The Crusaders finished the season on a 5-1 streak to clinch their second straight playoff berth with a 7-4 record. Bishop Canevin finished its late-season run with a 7-1 win over Monessen last week.

The Crusaders jumped ahead in the bottom of the first as senior Jim Dlugos nailed a three-run homer. A wild pitch later in the inning allowed sophomore Mitchell Tauffer to steal home, and a single from junior Zach Cortese drove home a run to give Bishop Canevin a 5-0 lead.

“From a pitching standpoint, it was big,” senior Nico DiPaolo said. “It helped me with us having a lead. It also helped with momentum with our bats coming alive.”

A Mark DeSchon shot to the gap between center and left field drove home Tauffer in the top of the third to extend the Crusaders' lead. The Greyhounds scored a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Bishop Canevin kept them at bay. A wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth allowed sophomore Giovanni DeMarzo to steal home to round out the Bishop Canevin scoring.

DiPaolo pitched a whole game and recorded seven strikeouts.

“He worked ahead in his counts,” Checketts said. “When you get ahead, it allows you to use your other pitches to get three strikes. He did a nice job.”

The win over the Greyhounds gave the Crusaders a 7-3 record in Section 2-A play for a second-place finish in the team's first season in the section after dropping down from Class AA. They finished behind Serra Catholic (10-0) and ahead of Monessen and Frazier (5-5) in the section's playoff battle.

“It was different,” Dlugos said about the drop in classification. “There were longer bus rides and we missed more school, but baseball is baseball. We played good teams that prepared us for the playoffs.”

Once the team was able to get onto the field and play consistently, it started to see growth. During the team's 5-1 late-season run that clinched a playoff berth, Bishop Canevin outscored its opponents, 71-16.

“We had some trial and error with the younger guys,” Checketts said. “They are realizing what it takes to play defense and what needs to be done to move on in the playoffs.”

The teams four seniors — DiPaolo, Dlugos, Jimmy Canton and Kay Joseph — already know what needs to be done to extend their season. They know this is their last chance to do something special and are going to leave it all out on the field.

“(DiPaolo) is the only one playing college baseball,” Canton said. “This is our last ride. We want to go out on top.”

“This is a great group of guys,” Dlugos added. “I wouldn't want to play with anyone else. It will be sad when it is over, but hopefully that isn't for a while.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-388-5813.

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